How to Trim Your Candle Wicks

How to Trim Your Candle Wicks

The length of your candle wick plays a big role in how well it burns. Some candle wicks stay the right length without any help. However, sometimes you need to trim your wicks to keep them the ideal length. In this blog, learn how to trim candle wicks and learn why this is so important for keeping your candles burning their best. 

Why do candle wicks need to be trimmed?

If you make your own candles, you know how much the wick size affects your candle. The size of the wick is chosen carefully to work perfectly in the container. However the wick length also plays a role.

Even if you initially choose the right size of wick for your jar, it may need to be trimmed periodically to keep the flame an ideal size.

When a wick is too long, it may produce a flame that’s too large for the container. If a flame is too large, it can produce soot and cause carbon buildup on the jar. Not only that, it may make the container too hot and create a safety hazard.

Learn more about proper wicking so you know what to look for when your candle is burning. 

When to Trim Candle Wicks 

Unless you know what to look for, it can be difficult to tell when a wick needs trimming. If your flame seems to be flickering (without a draft in the room) or getting out of control, you may need to trim it.

A good rule of thumb is to trim your candle wicks anytime they are more than ¼ to ⅜ of an inch long. The ideal length can depend on the size of your jar. Smaller candles should generally be kept trimmed to ¼ inch, while larger jars may work best with a slightly longer wick.

When a candle is being used, the wick can appear longer than it actually is because you can see into the melt pool. You only want to trim a wick if the portion sticking out of the wax is too long. With that in mind, be sure to wait until the candle is extinguished and the melt pool has hardened. The length of the wick extending from the hard wax is what you want to look at.

Keep in mind store-bought and handmade candles may both need trimming. 

How to Trim a Candle Wick 

You only want to trim wicks when the candle wax is cool and hard. Not only does this let you see the true length of the wick, it also prevents the trimmed wick from falling in the melted wax.

To trim a wick, you will simply snip the excess length with a pair of sharp scissors. Better yet, use a special pair of wick trimming scissors. These trimmers have a flat area designed for catching the trimmed wick and keeping it off the wax. If you aren’t sure how long to cut the wick, you can use a ruler. However, this level of perfectionism isn’t usually needed. You can typically eyeball the correct length without any problems.

After trimming the wick, be sure to remove any pieces of the wick or charcoal that may have fallen on the wax surface. These can get into your melt pool and potentially affect how the candle burns. Plus, this keeps your candle looking clean.


What about self-trimming wicks?

Some candle wicks are classified as “self-trimming” which means they usually burn in such a way that keeps them the ideal length without trimming. In most cases, you shouldn’t need to trim a self-trimming wick. However, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the length just in case. Most wicks can benefit from a little touch up every now and then. 

What if I over-trim a wick? 

Just like a wick that’s too long, a wick that’s too short can cause issues. When a wick is too small, it may cause tunneling. This occurs when a wick creates a small melt pool that burns down into the candle instead of melting across the whole surface.

To correct an over-trimmed wick, you may need to melt and remove some wax from your candle so the wick can burn properly. One way to do this is to use a heat gun to melt the top surface of the candle, then carefully pour the melted wax off. Afterwards, you can use the heat gun to melt the wax off the walls of the container and make the surface smooth.

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